PLANS to transform a disused bowling green into a wildflower meadow with up to ten beehives have been given the go-ahead.

Members of Darlington Borough Council’s planning committee today (Wednesday, March 12) approved the plans, which will allow Darlington Beekeepers Association to place up to ten hives on the Bowling Green Dene, near Bartlett Street.

The association also hopes to involve the community in the bees’ upkeep, as well as working with Friends of the Earth to transform the site into a wildflower meadow.

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Durham Police initially objected to the scheme, as they were concerned the hives would be targeted by missiles as the Denes area can be an antisocial behaviour hotspot.

However they later retracted that objection, and said that while they do have some concerns over antisocial behaviour, they do not object in principal to the application.

The site is surrounded by two metre high security fence, and the hives will be fitted with a remote monitoring system which will alert the association to theft or vandalism.

Roger Chappel, secretary of Darlington Beekeepers Association, said: “I accept the fact that it would be relatively easy to get in, but it certainly wouldn’t be easy to get out with a beehive on your back.”

Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Bill Stenson said he was worried that people living nearby may be stung.

“I think we will have complaints of people being stung. They can get very angry can bees,” he said.

But Mr Chappel reassured residents that there will be no increase in the number of bees in their gardens.

“They are not interested in small gardens, they go more for the oilseed rape fields,” he said.

“Nobody will notice any actual difference - all they may notice is a big difference in the apple production.”

Pierremont Councillor Bob Carson said: “We were delighted to hear about the proposal.

"Issues to do with vandalism can be very disturbing, but what I would say is if we do not do anything with this site is that it will be a playground for vandalism anyway.

“I think there is a strong likelihood that any vandalism that is in the area would reduce with this sort of proposal.

“If we say that it is paramount to consider vandalism with every planning application we would never have any children’s playgrounds, we wouldn’t even have bus shelters.”